Netball Australia (NA) has revealed a new, more inclusive uniform policy in an attempt to get more people playing the sport.
- Players will be allowed to wear longer sleeves, as well as shorts and long pants going forward
- The changes are aimed at inclusivity as well as protecting against harsher weather conditions
- Uniforms at a number of events, including Wimbledon and AFLW, have made changes aimed at inclusivity this year
The governing body said new guidelines around playing kit, which come into effect from the start of next year, would “recognise the various individual preferences and religious beliefs of netballers”.
The plan is to allow players and umpires to have more choice in what they wear on the court.
They include a dress, singlet, bodysuit, short sleeve or long sleeve shirt, skirt, shorts and long pants, which NA said would also provide more protection in different weather conditions for those games played outside as they often are at lower levels.
NA executive general manager for strategy, government and community Glenn Turnor said the national governing body collaborated with state and territory bodies to try to identify reasons people left netball and remove those barriers.
“Netball is ever-evolving, and we need to reflect this in all aspects of our game, including uniform choices,” Turnor said.
“We are excited to implement these inclusive uniform guidelines going into 2023 and ensure that everyone can feel comfortable playing netball.”
It comes after Wimbledon changed their strict all-white dress code and the AFLW moved away from white shorts to address issues such as period-shaming.
Operations manager for the AFL Wimmera Mallee and Horsham District Jennie French said she had already seen the impact of the proposed change in regional Victoria.
“We’ve seen people return to netball that had stopped playing because they weren’t comfortable,” she said.
“Numbers were declining in a lot of places, but this change has seen the return of some players to the region, which has been fantastic. It’s given people the confidence to play in what they’re comfortable in.”
Australian men’s team defender Alastair Punshon said the notion of a netball player was changing, as evidenced by the men’s Constellation Cup and England series running alongside the Diamonds matches earlier this year.
“It is so important for people to have as much fun as possible, wearing whatever makes them feel comfortable, playing a sport that they love — that’s what will grow this game,” he said.